Bitterroot Valley public schools are struggling to find applicants for the 2022-2023 school year.
Lone Rock Superintendent Robert DoBell, Ed. D., said that he is searching to find applicants and not all the positions he’s hoping to fill need advanced education.
“It has been difficult hiring recently,” he said.
The list of openings for Lone Rock includes a Title I Teacher elementary curriculum teacher, a middle school Math Teacher, an assistant cook, a Title 1 paraprofessional and three elementary/middle school para-professionals.
“Part of it is the job climate,” DoBell said. “Plus, we struggled to keep up with the bigger districts with salaries so that makes it difficult for us. We have a really good school, small classes and sometimes it’s just hard to compete with bigger schools and the salaries they have.”
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He said that finding housing is another challenge.
“We really work with the community to find affordable places to rent for staff,” DoBell said. “We put the word out, and the community center folks help out, and the fire hall people help out. We were able to find housing for some folks that way but it is difficult at times.”
He was able to fill a middle school English teacher position by transferring a teacher from a paraprofessional position.
“We had an employee transfer from one position to another and that opened a different position,” DoBell said. “It didn’t help with hiring a full staff, but we’re ever hopeful that we’ll be able to find folks. We’ll work all summer at it.”
He said the positions could be filled by parents who would then have the same schedule as their children.
“The paraprofessional positions are great for that,” he said. “Certifications are not needed for those or the assistant cook position either. They just need to be willing. The nice part of a school job is that it comes with benefits, like health insurance and retirement.”
On Monday, Dobell hired a new district clerk/school secretary.
“Marsha Bloom has been here for 26 years and is retiring at the end of September,” he said. “She’s kind of an icon here at the school.”
Overall, Lone Rock is seeing an enrollment increase.
“We’re now back at 215 to 220 students, we were at 170 when I started a few years ago,” DoBell said. “It is nice we have former students now in their 30s starting to have kids. They are saying this is where they will bring their children, which is cool.”
Florence-Carlton Superintendent Brian Rayburn agreed that hiring is a struggle this year.
“We are very fortunate to have most of our positions already filled for next year,” he said. “We are looking for a Special Education Teacher at the elementary level and a Title 1 teacher for the upper elementary level. These positions are typically difficult to fill.”
He agreed that it has been difficult to hire custodians, kitchen workers and para educators.
“We have a few openings for these positions for next year that we are still advertising for,” Rayburn said.
Corvallis School Superintendent Jon Konen said he has been having difficulty hiring two counseling positions at the primary school.
Darby Superintendent Chris Toynbee said his school is struggling to hire employees.
“The biggest hurdle for hiring teachers right now is lack of housing opportunities and/or affordability,” Toynbee said.
Stevensville Superintendent Bob Moore said his school has not been exempt from the hiring challenge.
“Specialist areas such as counseling, library, building trades, and special education are especially hard positions to fill,” Moore said. “We have not been able to find a building trades teacher, Spanish teacher and a special education teacher. We were not able to fill a counseling position during this school year.”
He said the positions have been advertised for several months.
Victor Superintendent Diane Woodard said she is still trying to fill an art position, a PE position and a Business Education teacher.
So, all school year, schools need substitutes for bus drivers, classroom teachers, custodians, kitchen workers, paraprofessionals and office staff.
Contact schools directly for more information about benefits and the application process.